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Interview With Gary Taubes on 'Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It'

Science writer says carbs and sugars are to blame

Q. Do you lose your taste for sweets if you give them up?

A. That sweet tooth does vanish. For me, now I can't even imagine a big glass of OJ — it would be too sweet. It's like any addiction. When I was younger I smoked cigarettes — and I couldn't imagine life without cigarettes. But when I gave it up, the intense cravings lasted about three weeks. That was followed by a couple of years of simply missing the cigarettes, when I always had to be on my guard that I might slip and go back to smoking. But after a while, I couldn't imagine going back, and I found it hard to imagine why I ever smoked. It's true of nicotine, bad relationships and carbs.

Q. What have been the results for you?

A. Personal stories like my own are anecdotal, which means they don't say much scientifically. But I first tried eating like this as an experiment 10 years ago — an economist at MIT suggested I try it — and I've stuck with it. I weigh 10 pounds less than I did when I started, but I was gaining two pounds a year at the time, so I might be 30 pounds less than I would have been otherwise. I do have more energy. I need less sleep. My skin is clearer. I could go on, but I start sounding like an infomercial, which is precisely what I'm trying to avoid.

Q. What is your main point?

A. The point I'm making in this book is that this is about science, and when the evidence is studied without preconceptions, what it tells us is pretty clear.

Jennifer S. Holland lives in Maryland.

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